Weaver's Week 2002-04-27

Weaver's Week Index

27th April 2002

Iain Weaver reviews the latest happenings in UK Game Show Land.

This week's column is jointly dedicated to the memory of Ian Gillies, who died last week aged 74. After winning BRAIN OF BRITAIN, he set questions for the show, and moderated under the pseudonym of Mycroft. He was also Young Grove on COUNTERPOINT.

Also to the memory of Christopher Price, host of LIQUID NEWS and showbiz journalist par extraordinaire, who died this week at the tragically young age of 34.

- Is there a future for sheep-shearers in Panama?

- It's Oxford versus Cambridge in University Challenge

- And who will take the Dirty Money?


Spotted before this week's show: Earth Mother Davina is advertising a show where one can win £100,000 from the comfort of one's living room. THE VAULT is orange, and coming soon to a heart near you. Does this count as a blessing from the Great Goddess Of Realityshows? Can we mention Survivor in the same breath as the one Davina presents without being mercilessly laughed at? This year's Survivor is good, but how much of that is down there being no direct comparison with BB?

Last week, Helen lost the quiz show and left the tribe. It's clear that Bridget will be next to leave, so let's look for who will be off after that. My money's on Alistair.

Formerly North island

+ Alistair, 34, Motherwell. One day on a log.

+ Drew, 27, Abingdon. Wins SHAFTED.

+ David, 54, Newcastle. As easy as falling off a log.

Formerly South island

+ Bridget, 42, Oxford. Heading for the exit

+ John, 32, Winchester. One day on a log, too.

+ Jonny, 30, Edinburgh. World champion log stander

+ Susannah, 27, Wimbledon. Posh bird.

Big White Shirt points out that South island now has a majority, but doesn't mention that this is the first time they've led all series. The titles have been edited to remove the first four to leave. Alistair reckons the South mob should combine to vote off their weakest link. Suze takes exception to this. Someone's been sending the team a large dead spider. That's your lunch, that is.

The seven are whisked off in a truck to The Bat Cave. John is still wearing that "3" shirt. The object is to bring out the spiders that live in The Bat Cave, bring them to the surface, and put them in a jar. Fifteen minutes to collect arachnids, then it's the end of the cobweb. There are bonus points for anyone who can find other Marvel comics characters down there. Bridget falls and cuts herself during the spider chase. John caught nine, and takes the prize: a hot tub and a luxury dinner on the island. He gets to choose a guest, and picks the injured Bridget, who was robbed of a shot at the victory circle by that fall. Alistair is going for the Snappy Blighter award, the only one not to ask after Bree.

At camp, people are beginning to think there's not going to be enough rice left. Remember the law of diminishing rations: fewer people on the island means less rice will be eaten. The second chicken goes, and Drew asks Jonny if he wants to go for a pluck. The spirit of the Two Ronnies is alive and well and living in Panama.

Immunity is an assault course with weight penalties after a quiz round. Each has five 1kg sacks of sand, and hand one sack to someone else on a correct answer. John is wearing the "3" shirt for the third day. It must stink. The quiz / penalty / physical challenge combination feels like a format that could be entertaining on its own. We don't see Suze jumping over a gate; she carries 3kg. Jonny carries 8kg, John 7, Drew 3, Dave 2, Bridget 3 and an injury, Alistair a stunning 9kg. John claims immunity after covering the course in little over a minute; everyone else takes around 90 seconds, apart from Bridget's 2m30.

Drew tells John that she wants off; he spreads the word to the rest of the tribe except Alistair. She's threatening to waste food and not help if she stays. Ali reckons Bree can come across to the North bloc, as she's oblivious to the abuse John and Jonny doled out on the log. J&J undermine Ali by tells Bree about the agreement on the log, and how the other guys brooded on a throwaway comment she made about not needing immunity. There are no secrets this year. Suze and Bree remember it's only a game show, and reckon that Ali needs to go. Soon. Possibly tonight.

Jonny is wearing tonight's number, and it's 4. There's no message on Helen's top. We can't have a totally tied vote, but we may need a second ballot.

Suze gets 3, Ali 4. Drew, for all her protestations, doesn't even vote for herself. Voting, one assumes, has been strictly on island lines. "It's not over till it's over," says Big Philosopher.

Next week: The rain continues. Drew's reign of terror, mass destruction, and total idleness begins. And proof that Panama is a suburb of Borchester. 2145 (or after the football) Wednesday.


Sidney Sussex Cambridge 72 -v- University Oxford 73

Two teams from Bambi's era - SSC recalls receiving a group of paintings that they hung in the college bar, and Chris Allen's left-wing plot to undermine capitalism by answering questions and wearing silly hats. Univ was in the dressing room next to Slade, and Frank Booth grew a beard between episodes taped on the same day.

Generation Gappy: Thumper reads out a list of eleven surnames, and asks how they're linked. Many seconds pass before Angus Sanders (SSC) figures they are the final ten [1] on POP IDLE.

With some easy bonuses, SSC takes a strong lead, 85-20 after five starters. Univ pulls back, helped by an intimate knowledge of South American currencies, but doesn't take the lead. Two of the Univ team has gone on to be high-powered bankers.

A set of bonuses on furies gives Univ the lead. The sight of eight grown men poring over guitar chords is quite remarkable - who in their teens knows how to play a B flat minor seventh, never mind know it when they see it. The next set of bonuses ties the game at 155. Jeremy Stone gives Univ the lead, and the team extends to 60 clear with two minutes to play. The Oxford side rather runs away with it in the end, winning 240-150

Stats: Davidson top scored for Univ, with 73 points. Stone and Frank Booth both topped 60 for the side. SSC's top scorer was Angus Sanders on 58. SSC took 17/24 bonuses and 3 penalties; Univ 25/37 and 3 penalties.

The finals board:

345 Somerville 02

240 Imperial 96

240 Univ Ox 73

225 Trinity Ca 95

205 Merton Ox 81

200 Lancaster 80

180 Bradford 80

175 New Ox 64

150 Sidney Sussex Camb 72

120 Leicester 62

Next week: Sussex 68 -v- Imperial 01

[1] To avoid going through back issues, Rik Waller left the competition for medical reasons early in the last ten, and was replaced by Darius Danesh. An update on the fortunes of the PI 10 will appear in around a month.


"Six contestants are given £500 just for turning up. Only one of them will leave with the money. Which will it be? Find out in the show that cycles money faster than a Colombian drugs baron..." Or something along those lines.

Six contestants, all just out of each other's line of sight, facing a camera. £500 in a notional bank, questions on the buzzer. Get it right, take £50 from someone else's account. Get it wrong, pick someone who will get £50 from the erring player. Repeat for 90 seconds. Person with the lowest score at the end of the round donates their money to one (and only one) other player. Repeat until the end. Well, there are a couple of minor changes - the person leaving from the round of 3 can split their money, and questions in the round of 2 are for £100.

Effectively, this is the same round repeated five times, just with slightly fewer players each time. Did we write something very similar for another daytime show where only one player leaves with all the money? Quite possibly.

The endgame perhaps needs a little work: six questions answered correctly in 75 seconds to win the lot; fail to do so, and the winner has to donate their winnings to one (and only one) contestant.

Host Marcus Bentley is one of the most famous people in the country, yet he could walk down the street without anyone troubling him. As well as being a Channel 4 continuity announcer, Bentley is the narrator of BIG BROTHER. His are the Geordie tones that set the scene for the hit reality show that everyone watches.

The tenor of this show is very similar to Channel 5's former big budget daytime staple, 100%. A host we never see, contestants isolated from each other, questions about which we don't hugely care, a decent cash prize.

There are some irritations in the show: after every question, Marcus says, "Peter, lose £50," which gets very annoying after about the hundredth time of repetition. The clock on screen is only calibrated in 10 second intervals, which is unusual. I'm not a fan of the way the account balance scrolls the same way as an increase and a decrease. In the early shows, Marcus sounded quite ill at ease when he had to ask people why they had decided the way they had. This is something he's growing into, and is already showing signs of making the format his own.

In spite of these irritations, there's a sense of open psychological warfare between the contestants. The premier episode featured a contestant who got the grand total of one question correct, yet still finished second. She was the general choice as the "stop the leader" contestant, and benefited when the leader eliminated his closest rival in the round of 3.

I think this could be as well remembered as 100%, albeit played for 30 times the stakes. Also as the first show I've seen from 12 Yard Productions, a name that appears on the UKGS Contestant Calls page in connection with the replacement for the replacement for the Wonderwall. More on that next month...


Congratulations to all at POP IDLE, named Best Entertainment Programme at the BAFTA TV awards this week. ITV's THE SKETCH SHOW won Best Comedy - it features the talents of erstwhile WHITTLE and FLUKE host Tim Vine.


The Generation Game may have gone, but FRIENDS LIKE THESE stages a return at 1800 Saturday on 1.

Johnny Vegas is monkeying around on Sunday night on BBC Choice. In THE JOHNNY VEGAS GAMESHOW, two teams compete for a prize, but if they fail, the audience goes to Paris. 2200.

Smart Alec watch: Alastair Stewart says Six, Six, Four.

A new series of CHAINED starts on E4 at 2240 Monday and nightly thereafter. Melanie Hill still presents. Omnibus the following Saturday night.

Fans of FEAR FACTOR will wish to know that this week's show airs at 2000 on Sky 1. An hour earlier than usual.

Just scraping the bottom of the game show barrel: PANIC MECHANICS, in which Trevor Nelson challenges two teams to transform a hearse into a dune racer for under £2000. 2000 Thursday on 2.

All schedules are subject to change; E4 and Sky1 may not be available to all MonkeyVision customers all week.

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